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An overview of the AOR exam 

Passing the Advocate on Record exam is not easy. In fact, an estimated 80 percent fail the exam every year. For example, among the 1,000-1,200 people who attempt the exam annually (1,091 took it in 2021), only about 200-250 succeed.  

But the majority who fail do so because they are not adequately prepared, not because the exam is too difficult to clear. 

So in this email, I will give you an overview of the exam and its various components – the very first step towards preparing for it. 


You must have:

  • 4 years of practice experience before the date of the exam
  • Also 1 year of experience of working with an AoR of at least 10 years’ standing 
  • You need to have an office within 16 km of the Supreme Court

Let’s understand what this means.

  • Four years of practice experience is counted from the date of enrollment with the State Bar Council. The date of passing the All India Bar Exam is not relevant.    
  • Once you have this, step 1 is to file a Commencement Certificate issued by the AoR you are training with. This shows that you have started training under an Advocate on Record with at least 10 years of standing as an AOR. At LawSikho, we can give you ideas about how to find such AORs to work with.
  • Once you have given your Certificate of Commencement, you begin your training. On completion of 1 year of continuous training with the AOR, a completion certificate has to be submitted.

This work must begin regardless of the notification for the AOR exam. 

What to do once the notification for the exam is out?   

  • You need to fill in the application form and ensure that your 1 year of training is completed by the day of the exam. You will receive a confirmation for this.
  • Next, submit hard copies of certain documents, after which you will receive your admit card. 
  • You will need to obtain the Certificate of Completion (ideally by the time of submission of the application form, and at least a few days before the date of the exam, so that the Board of Examiners has some time to process your completion certificate)

When are you likely to take the AoR exam? 

  • If you already meet the eligibility criteria and have filed your commencement certificate, we recommend that you attempt the exam at the next available date. But only – and only – if you are thoroughly prepared. Because if you fail all the papers, you cannot take another attempt at all. 
  • If you are starting to study from scratch now, your earliest attempt needs to be planned ahead. This time, while the exam is expected to be scheduled for July 2023, if we go by recent patterns, it may be held only in December 2023. 
  • If you have not filed your commencement certificate, your immediate goal should be to find an AOR who can give you a commencement certificate so that you can file it and be ready to take the December 2023 exam. 

What happens once you clear the exam? 

  • After declaration of the results (which could take a good 8-10 months), if you have passed the exam, you have to collect the AoR certificate from the Supreme Court in person. 
  • An application for registration as an AoR is to be given to you, which you need to submit. 
  • At this point, you should have an office within a 16 km radius of the Supreme Court, since you will have to provide an office address in this application form.
  • The said application is then listed before the Chamber Judge (all applications are listed in a bunch) who passes a formal order allowing you to practise as an AOR. This is a technical requirement.
  • You can then go ahead and become a member of the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association. 

Becoming an AoR officially could take 6 or 7 years from enrolment in the bar 

This is mostly because AOR exam results are announced after 8-10 months. Also, in some cases, the 1 year of training may not be complete by the cut-off date of the exam notification. So keeping additional time in hand is important. 

This is also why cracking the exam in your first attempt is very important. 

Do you need to own an office near the Supreme Court? Do you need to rent an entire office for yourself in Central Delhi? Do you need to live in Delhi?

Here are the answers to these questions: 

First, you do not need to live in Delhi. There are many AORs based outside Delhi currently. You can find them on LinkedIn,and we could also share some examples. 

Second, you can rent or share a chamber with another lawyer, but this must be within 16 km of the Supreme Court.

And finally, you can fly down to Delhi for your matters and participate in virtual hearings at the Supreme Court. You do not need to live in the city. But it is a good idea to have an arrangement with a court clerk for drafting and filing work. You do not need to have a clerk on your payroll – there are many competent clerks who will agree to work if you pay them per filing. Fulfilling this criterion is pretty easy.

Are you interested in knowing more about the exam? At LawSikho, we can provide a roadmap for you to build a Supreme Court practice. 

Here are the basics of the AoR exam

  • The exam is held over a 4-day period.
  • There are 4 subjects, 4 papers of 100 marks each 
  • Paper I – Practice & Procedure
  • Paper II – Drafting
  • Paper III – Advocacy & Professional Ethics
  • Paper IV – Leading Cases   
  • 3 hours + 30 mins. reading time for each paper
  • Nothing is multiple-choice; all are subjective questions. You need to write answers by hand so this requires a lot of practise (speed + legible handwriting) as most real life drafting work today is done on a computer
  • It is not an open book exam (but for leading cases, you are provided very voluminous headnotes; they may not have the relevant answers to questions and most successful candidates state that they are merely a distraction) 
  • Qualifying/passing marks: 60% in aggregate with min. 50%  in each paper. This is not a competitive exam – everyone who scores this will pass
    • The thumb rule is to aim for 60 percent or higher in every paper 
    • If you secure 50% in three papers, you need 90% in the fourth, which is very difficult
  • There is no maximum age limit 
  • Number of re-attempts allowed – 5
    • If you fail all the papers, you cannot re-attempt the exam the following year. You will need to wait an extra year before trying again, so do not attempt the test without proper preparation. 
  • Several candidates fail in one or more subjects in their first attempt (and even subsequent attempts), and they end up losing a year or more for this reason. At this point, many people even give up on the idea. Don’t let that happen to you.
  • Registration fee/cost- INR 750.

All this information that I have shared is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to discuss, so many other tips and tricks that would be useful when you decide to take the AoR exam. 

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